Sermon: The Cup of Jesus

Global Positioning System (aka: GPS): there are 24 satellites circling the earth that send and receive signals allowing for pinpoint accuracy in location. For example, if you were in Berlin and you typed in the coordinates 36.3983 and -97.8847, you would be able to see exactly where I’m standing at this very moment. You can see where the military would be interested in such information, but others have had all sorts of fun with GPS locating, including those who enjoy Geocaching. It’s a thing. People hide objects all over the world, then upload the GPS location of the object to a website and then others will go out and find those locations. There are 130 locations just around Enid. All this to say, one of the most sought after item in the history of humankind could use a GPS location, because we still haven’t found it: the Holy Grail.

It is believed that the Holy Grail was used at the Last Supper for that first Eucharist and a day later used by Joseph of Arimathaea to collect the blood of Jesus as he died upon the cross. Later, legend has it that Joseph took it to England, but then it would be lost. The legend of the Grail and King Arthur and his quest all flow from these stories. True or not? I’ll let you join in the search along with Robert Langdon and the DaVinci Code. But why the search? If true, the religious significance for the faithful is tremendous, but legend tells that the cup also brings health, wealth and happiness to the one who possess it. It brings power. It is believed to drink from the Holy Grail of Jesus, to drink from his cup, is to have power.

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’” James and John had it all wrong. They thought to drink from Jesus’ cup was to share in his power. Oh, yes, they said. We can drink from that cup of power. We can handle the responsibility. The power won’t corrupt us. We can rule with you. They said, Yes, but they made the same mistake that King Arthur and so many others would later make. The cup that Jesus was to drink from was not a cup of power. It was something all together different. In fact, it was the opposite. From the Prophet Isaiah:

Wake yourself, wake yourself,
stand up, O Jerusalem,
you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord
the cup of his wrath,
who have drunk to the dregs
the bowl, the cup of staggering.
(Isaiah 51:17)

From St. John’s Revelation:

“If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger.” (Revelation 9b-10a)

James and John believed that the cup Jesus was offering was the cup of power. They were wrong. The cup he was offering was the cup of God’s wrath, which awaits those who have done evil, for those who have sinned. Yet Jesus did not sin, but as John teaches us, Jesus “is the propitiation [the atoning sacrifice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) The cup that Jesus had to drink was the cup of God’s wrath, not for his sins, but ours and those of the whole world.

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